There is a big issue in the holiday market. It's something most people wouldn’t think twice about but for families like mine, it’s the first thing we check. How accessible is a property? We can look at photos but wide-angle lenses and clever photography can change perspectives so can’t be relied upon accurately; we can call the owner/ agent and ask if a property is suitable for disabled individuals/wheelchair users but we’re very much reliant on their understanding of the issues we face; and finally, there’s the listing itself. If a property is advertised as ‘accessible accommodation, what exactly does that mean?
The problem is that there is no official definition in law of what ‘accessible’ actually means.
We are, through necessity, very well equipped to manage most things when we go away. Portable ramps, mobile hoists, etc do make life considerably easier when away from home and the large amount of equipment that the Dude uses daily, however, we still have to rely heavily on property owners and agents to accurately list their properties when it comes to how accessible they are. Most people are aware that steps and wheelchairs are not a good combination (you would be astonished how many ‘wheelchair friendly’ properties we have encountered that have stepped up to the front door), but not as many are aware of more subtle issues like turning circles, door widths and so on.
Surely, this needs to change? While you cannot possibly cover all eventualities there are basic things that apply to any accommodation in order for it to be deemed accessible - no steps, doorways wide enough to pass a wheelchair through, no tight corners or narrow corridors come to mind. Good lighting, non-cluttered rooms. Bathrooms and toilets with grab rails and enough room to allow someone to use the facilities safely. In an ideal world, hoists and changing place-type facilities would be available at all holiday-let accommodation but let’s be realistic here – the average person with a holiday let is unlikely to go that far unless they have experience of the issues families like mine face daily.
In my experience, most property owners are lovely and do all they can to help. Isn’t it time that they had a bit more guidance too so everyone can be confident in the accuracy of the descriptions?